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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Leave Your Worries and Vowels Behind!

Paco and I are down to hours before we head off over the pond for a month!  We've been planning and anticipating and saving for a very long time.  Every time one of us sneezes or trips over a rug or has intestinal gas, I panic that we have pneumonia, or a broken neck, or gout.  Here's a quick and dirty itinerary:

Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest (Paco says if I'm needing some space by then, he'll go to Buda, and I can go to Pest), Vienna, Innsbruck, Salzburg (I love Austria best of all), Interlaken, Zermott, Paris, and finishing up in Reykjavik.  We have daytrips and sidewinders as well (Brno, Czech Republic--see, we needn't carry along any extra vowels;  Lauterbrunnen; Giverny--where I've been trying to get for about 70 years;  Loire Valley-- a repeat for me but not Paco; Belgian  villages, but mostly waffles; and some other places.  We've been squirreling money away into our "perfume account", so that when that moment arrives we'll be Boy Scout ready!!  Google "Glacier Express" and then listen for my Commanche warwhoop coming from a general Switzerlanderly direction in a couple of weeks as well.  I've packed my Kindle and my knitting.  Paco has business cards for his website.  Originally he had packed a box and a half which equaled over 750 cards--I talked him down to a handful.

Disclaimer:  People who post about exotic trips probably ought to be shuffled off to a guillotine.  In this case, please know that this is the celebration of 15 years of marriage by two people who collided in the universe--neither of them thinking at the time that life was pulling much in their direction...this trip is a joint dream come true.  See you in a few!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Random Photo Sunday

I was looking through drafts in my blog postings and found this picture which is truly worth at least a thousand words.  Even though I don't remember my original intent when I downloaded the picture, I'm sure it was decent.  Pictured here are myself, Renee (rhymes with Penny) in the middle, and Geneva on the other side--good friends--we were a New Brunswick Stake Relief Society presidency, actually, on our way to see and hear Sheri Dew in the Manhattan stake center a few blocks from here.  We had cut through Central Park and paused here at Tavern on the Green, probably enticed in by those magnificent hanging baskets.  It was a pleasant autumn evening as I recall.  I do so appreciate a church that "throws" you together with people you've never met.  Through hundreds and hundreds of miles in a car traveling all over half the state of New Jersey and several EVENTS which involve countless hours of planning, cooking, and clean-up, you eventually become bonded.  I know these women's histories, heartaches, and joys.  I know their deepest feelings, and I know their purest intentions.  Renee and her husband moved to La Jolla, CA.  We stayed with them a few days when my son Taggart was married nine years ago.  Geneva and her husband built a home down near the prison in Salt Lake City after he retired from the FBI.  We're all westerners now again, returned back to our roots.  Our "gig" in NJ is history.  I'm going to look them up.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


First of all, raise your right hand and tell me you'll promise to get this whole documentary somewhere--amazon prime, hulu, Netflix--just get it.  It is indescribable.  You have never met anyone like Bill Cunningham.

Had I not stayed in my pajamas until well after 6 P.M. (I only threw on something else--actually just a top because the alpacas were loping down the road and I had to assist), I would never have been lounging in front of the computer.  Had I not finished all of Grey's Anatomy humanly possible to watch without paying money, I would never have been scrolling for something else to see.  Had I not declared today a holiday after I studied for an exam for nearly 6 hours, I would have been cleaning out a cellar or toting this or that here or there.  The planets aligned.  I randomly found Bill. 

Bill Cunningham dropped out of Harvard and ended up making ladies' hats in NYC.  From there he was drafted. Then he picked up a camera and has been documenting fashion for nearly 60 years since.  He lived in an apartment in Carnegie Hall sans kitchen, bathroom, and closets--it was wall to wall filing cabinets of negatives with a make-shift bed laid out over what look to be a couple of cans.  Then Carnegie decided to oust all their artsy-fartsie 40 year residents for some reason. Just recently Carnegie Hall relocated him to the 9th floor of a ritzy apartment building overlooking Central Park.  Bill had them remove all the kitchen cabinets and appliances in his new digs to create space for his filing cabinets.  He dines on the cheapest sandwiches and refuses food at the hundreds and hundreds of fashion events he attends. Food means absolutely nothing to him.  Nor does his own fashion. He wears simple khakis, a neutral sweater, and a blue pocketed smock thing everywhere he goes (including affairs in HIS honor!) because his camera tears his clothing.  He goes to mass weekly (he teared up and put his head down when the interviewer asked him about his religious life) and has never had a romantic interest.  Claims he never had time for it and just didn't think about it. He rides a bike everywhere he goes and commented he was on #29--the previous 28 having been stolen.

Lest you've brushed him off as an eccentric, let me hasten to add that Bill is a regular columnist for the New York Times and has received prestigious awards for his photographic excellence from the masters all over the world--most notably Paris.  He is a true egalitarian--his friends include the likes of Brooke Astor as well as Who's Who in the fashion industry and on down.  If he passed you pedaling around in Manhattan, you might think, "Sheesh.  Be careful, old guy."

Watch this.  Let me know if you fell in love with him like I did.  He's a treasure indeed. Who knew I could have a thing for an octagenarian?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Check it Off!

I'm all about my lifelist.  It sends me to obscure destinations in cities, walks me across bridges all over the place, puts books on my reading list, points me towards items in museums, pushes me to do and see and find, and now has enthusiastically prompted me to a teaching gearshift.  I'm going back to 5th grade next year!  Gulp!  Gasp!  Giggle!!!  This has been subconsciously prodding me for at least 3 decades.  I put the wheels in motion, and barring my inability to pass a national proficiency test on the 17th, I'm headed back to...wait for it, wait for it....THE EXACT SAME CLASSROOM I SAT IN AS A FIFTH GRADER ...wait for it again....EXACTLY 50 years ago!!!  For a random gypsy such as myself, that sort of cycle is unheard of, so I pause for a moment to pay homage... tick... tick...tick...tick.  I'm going to teach my fifth graders Greek and Latin roots, how to diagram (I think we'll form a grammar club!), how to knit, how to juggle, how to double Dutch jump rope, how to sew, and that's just the beginning. Jerry is going to come and teach French!  We'll probably have to convene outside of class joyfully and often to accomplish these ambitious objectives--maybe do a little in-class cooking in the corner, in that case, because surely we'll get hungry.  I so want to take them to Yellowstone and the Tetons AND most definitely on a college visit somewhere--maybe Rexburg or Logan.  If the planets align, we can do a mini Natural Helpers retreat and draft Mr. Belnap to pay us a visit!  I will need MONEY!!!  Looking for any and ALL ideas from everyone!  Send them along!  My brainstorm yesterday (because I've been discussing this with my 7th graders) is to sponsor a "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader" tournament of some sort and invite members of the community to come in and challenge them.  In other words, I'm giving this next year the best I have.  I think it's my last.  Follow along if you'd like!  Oh and a day at Provident Heritage Farm learning about alpacas, carding, spinning, and the wonderful world of fleece!  And movie/game nights, and crepes in the classroom, and a kid's "Midsummer Night's Dream", and skyping around the world with other 5th graders, and blogging, and a puppet production, and Paco's going to make them all a bookshelf which we'll paint on the first day, and....


vernalAudio Pronunciation\VER-nul\
1 :
of, relating to, or occurring in the spring
2 :
fresh or new like the spring; also : youthful
I get a word a day from Webster's in my email.  I mean to print them on index cards and place them around my world in hopes of expanding my vocabulary.  So far all I've done is mentally file them away, but today's word demanded some attention.  As I write this, I'm gazing out the office window to the west where dark clouds seem to be gathering.  I detect a rim of fog, and if I squint I can see what very well could be snow in the mountains above Paris.  New snow.  May Day.
Bona fide Brrrrrrrrrr Lakers don't put much stock in spring as a season.  We'd much prefer to acknowledge 3 seasons and be off about our business--bundled up in polar fleece.  Some "Springs" here come and go in a matter of hours--beginning and ending in the time it takes to shake a rug or two.  "Oh no!  I slept through spring!"  "Blasted!  Spring came while I was in the shower??"  "I used my Spring this year to sweep off the deck!"  We can sink our teeth into winter and lollygag us some autumn days away ad nauseum, and, summer--it brings out the pagan in us all.  We worship it unabashedly.
I've made my peace with Spring.  I promise not to torment it if it promises not to torment me.  I don't expect much out of it. Ever.  If it gives me a day here or an hour there, I'll take it.  BUT, I also refuse to be Spring's Fool.  I won't be surprised by its antics--snow right up to (and sometimes ON) the 4th of July, freezing winds to bring in May, buds on the trees a full month after the rest of the planet, ice on windshields, and any and all nasty little black clouds coming out of nowhere anytime anyplace.
Back to vernal.  I'm double checking that definition.  A closer look reveals no guarantee of warmth or green anything.  Picking out "fresh, new and youthful" as the key words.  I'll get back to you on this, but at first glance I'm suspecting YET AGAIN, that it's all a matter of attitude.  Drat.  I keep coming back to that.  I shall go my merry vernal way today, then, and carry spring in my heart.  I guess.   

Favorite books

  • Me 'n Steve
  • Thundering Sneakers
  • James Herriott's vet books
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Travels with Charley
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Peace Like a River
  • The Egg and I
  • Mary Poppins
  • Extremly Loud Incredibly Close
  • How Green Was my Valley